Top UK universities are emphasising the importance of language learning by requiring applicants to have a GCSE in a modern language.

In some counties two out of three children leave school without a language GCSE, with the study of French, German and Spanish “dying out” in some areas. UCL is this year set to become the first university to require applicants to have a modern language GCSE.

“We believe that knowledge of a modern foreign language and the possession of intercultural skills are an integral part of a 21st-century education,” a spokesman for the university said.

Entries for French in English schools have dropped by 59 per cent since 2001, from 347,000 to 141,800, while even Spanish and Italian — subjects that have remained relatively healthy in recent years — lost ground last year. The uptake of German has also dropped by more than half in the past decade and, for the first time, it has fallen behind Spanish.

The one silver lining has been the rapid growth of minority languages such as Russian and Urdu, although the figures are still relatively small. (Source: The Times)

Perhaps this importance should be stressed to school children when they’re selecting subjects to study at GCSE level.